A Little Quiet: Sound barriers go up on Chelsea Curves

Cars and trucks from the North Shore have rifled through the Chelsea Curves for decades just 20 or 30 feet above thriving neighborhoods and schools in Chelsea  – with no end to the noise and soot spilling over into those neighborhoods and schools, until now.

Large metal sound barriers have gone up on the Chelsea Curves this week as part of the larger contract to rehabilitate the viaduct that runs above Chelsea from County Road to the Mystic/Tobin Bridge. It ends a fight going back decades whereby residents and City officials have tried to get sound barriers up to block out the highway noise and other highway issues – including motorcycles and cars occasionally plummeting over the edge of the highway to the ground below.

So far, the installation has met “quiet” approval.

MassDOT Spokesperson Kristen Pennucci said the “solid snow barriers” were part of the overall Chelsea Curves contract and would remain in place afterward permanently – essentially buffering the noise and soot that Chelsea has dealt with for decades.

“MassDOT’s contract for this project includes the installation of a solid snow barrier on the east side of the Route 1 Chelsea work zone and portions of this barrier are now in place,” she said. “This barrier is a permanent structure which will remain after the project concludes.”

Council President Roy Avellaneda has long called for these barriers, but to no avail. MassDOT was apt to place them in suburban communities, but would never consider doing so in Chelsea or other urban areas. However, Avellaneda said he saw an opportunity to get them in the contract when the Chelsea Curves project was announced. He said after a long fight with MassDOT, he and other allies in Chelsea were able to get that mitigation item into the final contract.

“As the work on the S Curve progresses, we are starting to see what the finished project will look like,” he said. “The installation of the snow/sound barriers in some places is a welcomed sight. I’m looking forward to when the project is completed and residents near the S Curve get to enjoy the reduced traffic noise levels.”

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